by Davy Kestens in Start Running

Back to running after a broken leg

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No matter how fit you were before you suffered your injury, getting back to running after a broken leg is a slow process.

The key, as with most things in life, is patience and perseverance. Whatever you do, do not push yourself too hard, too soon. Pain is a good indicator that you are pushing yourself beyond your limits, and that its time for you to slow down. You may aggravate the injury, so begin exercising slowly.

It is advisable to wait a minimum of 90 days for the break to heal. This is a general estimate and will depend on the severity of the injury, but to be on the safe side allow your body time to heal properly. Once you’ve convalesced completely it is time to get back into an exercise routine.

Seek advice from the doctor!

The first thing you should do before you get back to running is check with your doctor to ascertain whether it is safe for you to resume an exercise routine. Be sure to discuss with him what sort of exercise you intend on doing before you begin. Do not expect to be anywhere near as fit as what you were 90 days ago!

First Run after Recuperation!

The long break from running, along with medication during injury, sometimes make you feel weak with a declining stamina. You may find your lack of stamina frustrating, but be patient and start with some low impact exercises. There are a certain stamina building exercises which I recommend. These will help you get back your stamina and create motion in your legs required for proper runs:

  1. To build muscle strength try a stationary bicycle or begin by taking a brisk daily walk. This may sound like child’s play, particularly if you are accustomed to running several miles a day, but for the first week stick to low impact activity.
  2. A very important part of your exercise routine is stretching and warming up the muscles. Take at least fifteen minutes before exercise to do some simple stretches. Lean forward slowly and touch fingertips to toes. If you find that you cannot achieve this at first, just stretch as far as you can go comfortably and then push a bit beyond that.  
Remember that your body has just recovered from a traumatic injury and that at first your body will be stiff. So begin by alternating the stretches by trying to place your fingertips of one hand to the opposite foots outer ankle, near to the ground. Again, do this slowly and gently.
  3. Walking on the spot is a good way to get the blood flowing as well, oxygenating the muscles as fresh blood is pumped throughout the body.
  4. In a seated position if necessary, bring the knee to the chest, alternating as you stretch and warm the muscles. Extend one leg behind you and gently bend the forward facing leg, getting a good stretch going. Hold and then alternate legs, ensuring that both enjoy a good stretch and warm up.

You should now be sufficiently warmed up to try a short stretch of activity. I would recommend a brisk walk and then short bursts of intermittent slow jogging.  Do not overdo it and should you feel any pain in the broken leg do not push yourself beyond your capabilities.

Stretching and warm up exercises should take a minimum of ten to fifteen minutes before you head out to start your morning or evening jogging session.  Keep the muscles warm by wearing clothing suitable for jogging and cover up in the cooler weather as cold muscles can lead to cramping and injury.

Build Muscle Strength

A good way to build muscle strength is with weight training. If this idea is new to you, begin slowly with very light weights. You need very little in the way of equipment.  Start with a set of dumbbells or a barbell and you can practice squats and lunges to improve muscle strength in your legs.  With weights in hand, roll onto the balls of your feet, standing on tip toe and try to hold that pose for a few seconds at a time.

This is a great way for building muscle strength in the calves and ankles.  If you are lucky enough to live near the ocean, jogging along the beach is an ideal way to improve muscle strength, as you have to work that much harder when jogging along loose sand.

Another great way to exercise weakened muscles as a way to get back to running after a broken leg is to do aqua aerobics or swimming.  This is an extremely gentle exercise which is great for strengthening the entire body.

All you need is a swimming pool and something you are comfortable wearing in the water, whether that is a swimsuit or a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  Your local gym should have a swimming pool on the premises that gives various classes or failing that, the local public swimming pool is a great place to get some exercise.

Be Safe… Slow and Steady Improvement will help you win the race!!

The last thing you want to do is aggravate the injury, an action that may set you back even further along the road to recovery.  Slowly does it nicely and if you are patient and allow your body time to become accustomed to the exercise it will reward you with increased fitness levels in no time at all.  After week two I would say it is safe to start pushing yourself a little harder.

Begin with jogging slightly longer distances and upping the pace slightly. Do this in increments that are comfortable for you. Every person has their own threshold and it is up to you to find yours. Building muscle strength and improving fitness is going to take a while, but regular activity will find you being able to run further and faster for longer periods of time.  By the time you reach the end of your fourth week you will feel a vast improvement in your fitness levels. If you still feel that you are struggling to get back to your previous level of fitness, do not despair. Just keep at it.

The key to getting back to running after a broken leg is patience with yourself and perseverance and repetition.  Every day you will find it easier to go that little bit further and you’ll be more flexible, stronger and your confidence will grow with each day. Just keep going and have a little faith in yourself.

A great way to stay motivated is to ask others to join you when you go for your jogging sessions!

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